Martin Peretz and the liberals: feeling vs. thinking
New Republic editor Peretz issues a wake-up call to fellow liberals today. He asks them to come up with some new ideas (the New Republic site is for subscribers only, so I linked to a site that has the text of the article for free).
I think Peretz is definitely on the right track here. But notice that Peretz doesn't seem to be able to come up with any new ideas himself. Of course, the article is already long enough as is, and maybe he's just in the position of the physician charged with making the diagnosis. He's not the one being asked to come up with the medicine and the cure.
But I think this coming-up-with-ideas thing is going to be difficult for liberals. They seem to have reached a point--and I hope I'm wrong about this--where they are more interested in feeling than thinking (like some clients I've known). Now, feelings are all very well and good, and we certainly need to have them, but nowadays it seems as though many liberals feel that, if their hearts are in the right place, that should be enough. Many (and I number among them some of my very best friends) feel the right is full of heartless Scrooges, so it's not all that necessary to counter the ideas on the right, it's just necessary to call people on the right nasty names (which isn't to say that there aren't some heartless Scrooges on the right--but it's a mistake to think they predominate).
The left needs to recognize that, slowly but surely, Bush and Co. have co-opted many of the ideas for which the left used to stand--such as, for example, freedom, liberty, the downfall of murderous tyrannical dictators, and equal opportunity for black people and for women. And, when the left opposes such things for transparent political reasons, as many of them have done in Iraq, and as many of them seemed to have done when they accused Condoleezza Rice of being Bush's female Stepin Fetchit, they lose the most important thing of all--they lose people's trust. Their hypocrisy is naked and exposed. And, after that, someone like me could find it very hard to trust them ever again, even when and if they finally do come up with some good ideas. I'm sure they have some good ideas even now, but those are being drowned out by the self-serving debunkers who never met an idea of Bush's they didn't hate.
UPDATE 2/20: Just noticed an upsurge in traffic. It seems the gracious Dr. Sanity has linked to this post. A sanitylanch? Welcome, and feel free to take a leisurely stroll around the blog.